5 Star Reviews for “Totally Fabulous” Ghost Lights: Ivor Novello & His Leading Ladies

GHOST LIGHTS received an enthusiastic reception from a brilliant full house audience on Friday 11th December at Marylebone’s Hinde Street Church. West End singers Fenton Gray (Ivor Novello) and Rosemary Ashe (Dorothy Dickson) , Rebecca Louise Dale (Mary Ellis) and Jutstina Kehinde (Elisabeth Welch) gave a brilliant performance and evoked the magic of these stars of the past.
Thank you to Nigel Foster and The London Song Festival for asking me to write this for the festival this year. It has been a joy to work with you and all the artistes involved. Thanks also to the Coward Estate and the Novello Estate for their support.
5Star Review by Stephen Vowles – Boyz Magazine
“Totally fabulous!! I’ve always been intrigued by the life, loves and work of both Noel Coward & Ivor Novello and Ghost Lights written and Directed by David Slattery-Christy opens up that world beautifully…The beauty of the English language is clearly on display as we are taken back in time to a by gone era of cocktails, high society and pure glamour. The way the songs are linked together showcases them with great style… it cannot be faulted with musical Director and pianist Nigel Foster totally capturing the mood and flavour of the era. The singers, especially Rosemary Ashe, are extremely polished and show a pure class and refinement.”
5 Star Review by Ned Hopkins – Sardines Magazine
“The London Song Festival is to be congratulated on presenting David Slattery-Christy’s charming musical entertainment Ghost Lights in the elegant Hinde Street Church last Friday, bringing the melody and magic of a bygone era back to today’s pandemic-stricken London.
The plot for the show is a reunion between Ivor Novello (Fenton Gray) and three of his leading ladies who, strangely, were all American but became much loved over here: Mary Ellis (Rebecca Louise Dale), Dorothy Dickson (Rosemary Ashe) and Elizabeth Welch (Justina Kehinde). The setting is the empty stage of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane at a time when its current Novello show The Dancing Years was interrupted by World War 2 in 1939 – later to be damaged by bombs. Indeed, the evening poignantly resonates for our present time when most theatres are dark, albeit we now battle a virus and not Hitler, although during the war theatres soon reopened and battled on.
Time and place are nicely evoked in the elegant Hinde Street Church by screens revealing the interior of the iconic theatre and, at the start, the BBC radio announcement that theatres were closed due to the outbreak of the war.
If current rules oblige performers to distribute themselves around the stage safely-distanced from each other, here they do so with the polished high style the period requires, enlivened by some pleasing movement.
Directed by Slattery-Christy himself, the piece neatly juxtaposes the contrasting melodic styles of Ivor Novello and Noel Coward: both contemporaries, friends and gay at a time when it was very much a crime to be ‘other’ – but were adored by the public – whose shows and personalities dominated the London stage during the first half of the last century.
The four performers, all vocally on tip-top form, throw themselves into an interesting selection of numbers by the two composers. Alternating with standard ballads such as Waltz of My Heart and Glamorous Night and lesser-known but delightful songs including Novello’s catchy Why Isn’t It You? and Coward’s touching Never Again. Particularly effective is one written by Novello for a Charlot’s revue, Night May Have its Sadness, which modulates into an up-tempo Finale with top hats. Bliss!”
Review by John Orchard
“I loved this show…congratulations to your cast on a wonderful entertainment…The story with its parallels between theatres and shows having to close during the war and at this time couldn’t have been more apposite, providing an opportunity for some great lines to punctuate the terrific songs of Novello & Coward. Bravo!”